Ted Lilly hasn’t signed a contract with the Cubs. Despite that fact — not to mention the other notable tidbit being that his agent, Larry O’Brien, hadn’t arrived in Orlando yet — rumors swirled around the lobby inside Disney’s Swan Resort here this afternoon that Lilly had indeed signed up to pitch for Chicago. OK, maybe "swirled" is a bit much. The rumor lasted a solid 15-20 minutes and was quickly rubbed out after a few phone calls.
Reports indicated later, though, that O’Brien did meet with the Jays once he arrived at the hotel late Monday night and the Jays may have made an offer. One thing that’s known is that Lilly’s agent plans on meeting with the Cubs, Giants and Yankees, along with Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi on Tuesday. O’Brien has said that the Cubs have offered a four-year deal to Lilly and the pitcher is seeking something near $37 million. Now that Vicente Padilla has agreed to a three-year deal worth $33 million, Lilly could command upwards of $40 million easily.
Toronto also reportedly met with the reps for free-agent starter Gil Meche on Monday. Ricciardi and some other front office sources denied that they met with the pitcher, but such a meeting doesn’t seem too farfetched. If the Jays seriously want to sign both Lilly and Meche, they might need to get one contract done before these Meetings are done on Thursday. Ricciardi has acknowledged that Jeff Suppan and Mark Redman could be backup plans.
Ricciardi was invisible for much of the day, opting to stay in his suite rather than test his luck in the lobby, where the media horde was waiting and watching for any of their sources to show up. It’ll be more of the same on Day 2, but perhaps a little more clarity will be shed on the Lilly and Meche situations. With both agents now in Orlando, there’s bound to be discussions taking place.
What will be interesting is to see how high Toronto’s payroll is actually going to go. It’s been speculated that the payroll would be between $90-95 million, but if Ricciardi is intent on signing two starters — one of whom could require an annual salary of around $10-11 million — that figure might actually be more around $100 million. We just have to keep waiting. Toronto won’t make the payroll public until the Rogers Communications board of directors approves it. But Jays president and CEO Paul Godfrey did say this:
"I do believe that J.P. should be able to do the things that he wants to do with the number that’s being suggested."
So stay tuned…